Jackson, Packer to Leave Qantas, CEO Stays on Despite Failed Bid

Australia's Qantas Airways said on Friday its chief executive and other senior managers would keep their jobs despite the collapse of a A$11 billion (US$9 billion) buyout bid for the airline.

The failed buyout claimed two senior board members -- Chairman Margaret Jackson and Australia's richest man James Packer -- who confirmed they would retire before the end of the year.

However, Chief Executive Geoff Dixon would not step down until at least July 2009 and his senior management team had also agreed to stay on, the airline said in a statement.

Qantas also said it planned to review its capital management strategies over the next few months and signaled it would not depart from current growth strategies such as growing its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar.

Qantas shares were little changed on the announcement, trading 0.6% weaker at A$5.22. The failed offer price was A$5.45 per share.

The statement followed a two-day management strategy meeting to map out the airline's future in the wake of a six-month takeover saga which ended earlier this month due to lack of shareholder support.

"In particular, the board endorsed the leadership of Geoff Dixon as Chief Executive Officer and his senior management team," Jackson, who confirmed she would retire, said in a statement.

Jackson, Dixon and other Qantas directors had been under pressure by unions and some shareholders to resign over their handling of the offer which was backed by the board.

The Airline Partners Australia (APA) consortium, which included Macquarie Bank and private equity firm Texas Pacific Group, admitted defeat this month after missing a deadline to get 50% of shareholder acceptances.

Qantas said it planned to grow its domestic businesses, restructure its international operations, consider consolidation opportunities and pursue cost cuts.

The airline has upgraded its earnings forecasts three times in the past year, but faces serious competition from the launch of a rival Australian domestic service by Asian airline Tiger Airways.

On March 15, Qantas said fiscal 2007 pre-tax earnings would be at the upper end of previous forecasts for a result 30-40% higher than last year.